10 September 2010

Readings, 2010.09.09

Thursday's Readings (Rosh Hashanah Edition)

The Economy

Andrew Gamble at The Independent warmly reviews Marxist historian David Harvery's The Enigma of Capital, and the Crises of Capitalism. This is definitely going on my reading list, if for no other reason than that I'm tired of reading triumphalist histories of capitalism that fail to take into account that capitalism is a historically located phenomenon.  A very brief one in the history of the human species, in fact, and one that isn't looking especially good for the long term.

Calculated Risk reports on an appalling foreclosure case, in "From Loan Modification Purgatory to Foreclosure Hell."  And if any of you have an account with Wells Fargo, you will want to close it today and recommend a boycott to all your friends.


Jonah Lehrer, master of the science blogiverse, really really loves books, and wonders what we lose when all our reading migrates to the screen ("The Future of Reading").

Der Spiegel reports that Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times, predicted at a recent conference in London that the newspaper would eventually cease publishing a print edition.  He declined to speculate on precisely when this would happen, but sooner rather than later seems like a good bet.  Next year, the NYT will experiment with charging for online access.  It won't work.


Think Android is "open"?  You won't after you read "Android is as Open as the Clenched Fist I'd Like to Punch the Carriers With," by M. G. Siegler at TechCrunch (H/T Dr. Mike).

Human Evolution

I overlooked the publication last month of a new study suggesting that certain genes associated with "social sensitivity" (5-HTTPR, associated with the seretonin system, as well as genes associated with the µ opiod receptor and monoamine oxidase A) are correlated with the degree of individualism vs. collectivism in various cultures.  See the outstanding summary last month by James Winters at a replicated typo, and the rather cool follow-up on Thursday by Sean Roberts at the same site.

The article is Baldwin M. Way and Matthew D. Lieberman, "Is there a genetic contribution to cultural differences? Collectivism, individualism and genetic markers of social senstivity," Social Cogntive and Affective Neuroscience.  Unfortunately behind a paywall at Oxford Journals, where it costs $32.00.

Razib Khan ponders the evolution of human nakedness and the invention of clothing.  A recent study suggests that clothing lice diverged from head lice between 83,000 and 170,000 years ago, which may give insight into the timing of the invention of clothing.

Razib included an illustration with his post that stirred up a minor Internet kerfuffle, because the last photo of the sequence (the man in the tophat) happens to be Kemal Atatürk.  No political statement or offense was intended, as Razib explains in a thoughtful follow-up.

Bill Benzon at New Savanna continues his critique of Susan Blackmore's intellectually incoherent ramblings on "memes."

In his post, Benzon refers to a debate going on at the Psychology Today site over Norman Holland's post "How the Literary Darwinists Got it Wrong," to which Joseph Carroll gave a blistering response.  I'll read all of this on Friday.


I've now read the full transcript at ABC Radio National of Nathasha Mitchell's interview with Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche.  Highly recommended, as is the book.


David Buch pointed me to this wonderful recording from 1925 by the great Yiddish singer Aaron Lebedeff: "What can you mach? S'is America"

We also looked at YouTube for his famous "Rumania, Rumania," which was formerly there, but may have been taken down.  You should definitely seek it out, however (and don't accept substitutes: Lebedeff's original recordings are the best).  This is also, as David astutely points out, "where Danny Kaye came from."


The Frankfurter Rundschau reports on an exhibition of Bob Dylan's paintings at the Statens Museum in Copenhagen (until 30 January 2011).  The 40 acrylic paintings in the "Brazil Series" were created especially for the show.  Dylan stipulated that none of his music be played in the background.

Art + History reproduces a lovely villanelle by W. H. Auden, which begins:
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.
Most intriguing headline of the day:
Are Swedish Police Violating Copyright Law In Creating Shoe Database? (at Techdirt)
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  1. The song is lovely (although I do understand only parts of it), thank you for sharing it!

  2. David and I looked for a transcription on the Internet, but couldn't find one. The French site devoted to Lebedeff has a transcription of his final recording of "Rumania, Rumania" (which is not the one I've heard).